206 Chapters
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Medium 9780253014092

3 Reinventing Local Forms: African Fashion, Indigenous Style

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

I was drawn to everything that was African.

—Chris Seydou, Malian fashion designer, Bamako, 6 March 1993

The traditional and the contemporary with a touch of originality. These are the three elements of creativity.

—Salah Barka, Tunisian fashion designer, Paris, 19 June 2010

Sun Goddess harvests stories and images of South African traditions. These stories look back to our heritage and its relevance to the past, present and future.

—Vanya and Thando Mangaliso, South African fashion designers, Sun Goddess website, 1 February 2011

We need to preserve indigenous, traditional techniques by making them modern.

—Aboubakar Fofana, Malian artist and designer, Bamako, 25 June 2009

I want to take from the past and take it with me into the future.

—Laduma Ngxokolo, South African fashion designer, Port Elizabeth, 2 June 2012

In his autobiographical novel L’Enfant Noir (The Dark Child), Guinean writer Camara Laye used clothing to make a powerful statement about the shifting incarnations of tradition. Recalling the rituals by which life was ordered during his childhood, Laye described how people in his community continued to embrace practices that had been detached from the meanings that once inspired them. Now, these practices simply evoke the idea of tradition: “Sometimes only the spirit of a tradition survives; sometimes only its form. Its outer garments, as it were, remain.”1 Clothing here stands in for the residue of tradition, a remnant of practices no longer integral to people’s lives. It may also refer to vaguely remembered histories. Importantly, Laye does not express this shifting meaning as loss, but rather as a source of comfort in the certainty that these rituals (or the garments that are their residue) still have meaning. Writing of a harvest ritual whose origins are lost to memory, Laye notes: “Yet, like all our customs, this one had its significance.”2

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Medium 9780253013873

5 Zombie Health Care

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Wouldn’t it be kinder, more compassionate to just hold your loved ones and wait for the clock to run down?

Dr. Edwin Jenner in “TS-19,” The Walking Dead (2010)

“Wildfire,” the fifth episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead’s first season, shows a crisis many Americans are currently facing.1 In the aftermath of a zombie attack, the human survivors must prevent their killed loved ones from returning as zombies. One woman, Carol, refuses to let the group’s men take responsibility for “decraniating” her prone life partner. “He’s my husband,” she says before splattering his gray matter onto the viewing lens. The scene cuts to another woman, Andrea, cradling her dead sister and waiting for the first sign of reanimation. Over a soundtrack of sentimentalized music, Andrea mournfully says, “Amy. Amy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not ever being there. I always thought that there’d be more time. I’m here now, Amy. I’m here. I love you.” When Amy’s groans indicate her undead return, the men move to dispatch her. But Andrea preempts this outsider intervention by shooting her own sister’s brains out.

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Medium 9780253014092

Conclusion: What Fashion Shows

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

Fashion is cultural identity.

—Abdoulaye Tembely, writer, Coura magazine, Bamako, 30 July 2008

I look for materials that have a story, passion, a soul.

—Anna Getaneh, designer, organizer of African Mosaïque fashion shows, Johannesburg, 20 May 2008

Anyone looking for a few masks or leopard spots will be disappointed.

—Duro Olowu, Nigerian designer 1

African fashion offers abundant insights into cultures, both close to home and distant, real and imagined. Through garments, designers tell stories about history, heritage, and global networks of style, as well as the perpetuation or revival of local dress practices. Fashion also provides a medium for portraying or inventing other peoples’ cultures, offering a highly visible forum for projecting impressions and preconceptions. This concluding chapter reiterates and expands on these stories through two media that make African fashion, and fashion everywhere, widely visible far beyond the limited number of consumers who can afford to purchase designer clothing: fashion shows and fashion magazines. It also returns to cosmopolitanism—and the closely related concept of Afropolitanism—as frameworks for elucidating Africa’s fashion manifestations, exploring how dress practices both illustrate and complicate these notions.

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Medium 9780253340481

Chapter Six Another Realm: Her Highness Xenia

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253008527

5 - The Current Plein Air Painting Phenomenon

Indiana Plein Air Painters Association Quarry Books ePub

Amateur artists as well as professionals, in the twentieth century, found challenge and enjoyment in attempting to capture scenes on canvas or paper outdoors. One of the most famous amateur artists in the 1940s was the prime minister of England, Sir Winston Churchill. To relieve stress from strategizing during World War II, Churchill applied brush to canvas for the first time at age forty-one. He created more than 500 oil paintings over the next forty-five years, receiving positive criticism in the press.

The plein air painting movement has burgeoned in the past three decades, not only in Indiana but also throughout the country. Many state and local organizations have been established, including Arizona, Bay of Fundy, Blue Ridge, California, California of the North, Charlotte, Chicago, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Four Corners, Genesee Valley, Georgia, Great Lakes, Hawaii, Iowa, Laguna, Michigan, Mid-Atlantic, Missouri, Monterey Bay, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Niagara Frontier, North Woods, Ocala (Florida), Oregon, Pikes Peak, Rancocas Valley, Rocky Mountain, Sacramento, Snake River, Southeast, the North, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West, Western North Carolina, Western Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

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Medium 9780253008145

EIGHT “We Grew Up Free but Here We Have to Cover Our Faces”: Veiling among Oromo Refugees in Eastleigh, Kenya • PERI M. KLEMM

Edited by Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

The adoption of the veil among Oromo refugees living in Eastleigh, Kenya, one the largest urban refugee communities in Africa, is a recent phenomenon. Women feel increasing pressure to cover their heads and bodies in accordance with the practices of their Somali neighbors and fellow refugees. More and more, as instability and violence escalate, Oromo women are choosing to adopt full hair, head, and body covering as a kind of urban camouflage with which to conceal their ethnicity. As one female resident acknowledged, “We grew up free but here we have to cover our faces” (B. B. H., personal communication, September 2011).1 Yet, just five years ago, Oromo women in Eastleigh proudly wore their cultural dress in public. For refugees with little in the way of material heritage, women’s dress, hairstyles, and jewelry have served not only as a vital marker of Oromo identity in their home country of Ethiopia but also as a fundamental assertion of Oromo nationalism in the diaspora.

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Medium 9780253348920

2. Idoma Warriorhood and the Pax Britannica

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub



Ichahoho olébè òche (Ichahoho eats [the meat of] human beings)!

—War cry formerly sung by the Ichahoho mask, Ekpari clan, Akpa District

By contrast with that of the East African pastoralists, Idoma warriorhood in central Nigeria was inscribed within a much more widespread and formulaic colonizing discourse: barbarism that had to be eradicated in order to bring civilization in Africa. David Livingstone, the nineteenth century’s most popular explorer-missionary, summed up the more benign representation of this civilizing mission: “We come upon them as members of a superior race and servants of a God that desires to elevate the more degraded portions of the human family” (Jeal 1973, 382).1 Frederick Lugard, the great architect of British colonial policy, justified colonization much more graphically fifty years later:

The South [in Nigeria] was, for the most part, held in thrall by Fetish worship and the hideous ordeals of witchcraft, human sacrifice, and twin murder. The great Ibo race to the East of the Niger … and their cognate tribes [e.g., Idoma] had not developed beyond the stage of primitive savagery. In the West, the Kingdom of Benin—like its counterpart in Dahomey—had up to 1897 groaned under a despotism which revelled in holocausts of human victims for its Fetish rites. (Lugard 1919/1968, 56)

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Medium 9780253007414

6. Rethinking Mbari Mbayo: osogbo Workshops in the 1960s, Nigeria

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Chika Okeke-Agulu

On the contrary, no experience that is interpreted or reflected on can be characterized as immediate, just as no critic or interpreter can be entirely believed if he or she claims to have achieved an Archimedean perspective that is subject neither to history nor to a social setting.

EDWARD W. SAID (1993:32)

The Osogbo group of artists, particularly those identified with the Mbari Mbayo Club and summer schools and art workshops between 1962 and 1966, has been compared with other contemporary workshop-trained artists elsewhere in Africa. Often their work has been treated as direct products of the colonial or romantic imaginations of European teachers. However, critics have questioned the cultural authenticity of such work—produced, as it was, under the influence of primitivist European teachers. These positions presuppose the gullibility, even naïveté, of the workshop-trained artists; the cunning, imperialist ideas of their European teachers; and a skewed, unequal power relationship between the semiliterate African student and the European teacher.1 Put simply, they raise questions about the authenticity of the work produced by these artists and, related to this, the pedagogical and thus power relationship between the European workshop masters and their African students. I am equally interested in these issues, but not along the same lines as previous commentators on the work Osogbo artists. Whereas most observers see another familiar story echoed in other workshops elsewhere on the continent, I argue that Osogbo was a trans-genre phenomenon in which the person and creative vision of Duro Ladipo loomed large in previously unacknowledged ways. Ladipo’s contribution to the making of Mbari Mbayo was not only fundamental but also significantly placed it outside the horizon of one single disciplinary domain. In other words, Osogbo’s uniqueness, it seems to me, lies in its production, through individual and collective work of those involved in it, a veritable Gesamtkunstwerk in the Wagnerian sense, which ultimately calls for a closer examination of how this might dislodge assumptions about the work produced by the artists, their relationship with their so-called teachers, and the nature and vectors of influences and ideas within the collective.

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Medium 9780253008527

2 - The First Generation of Hoosier Plein Air Painters

Indiana Plein Air Painters Association Quarry Books ePub

During the state of Indiana's Golden Age of Culture, in the 1880s and 1890s, Hoosiers led the country in creative trends. The Hoosier Group painters were working at the same time as nationally read Indiana writers James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916), George Aid (1866–1944), Meredith Nicholson (1866–1947), and Booth Tarkington (1869–1946). The visual artists' enthusiastic belief that their state was “as beautiful, characteristic and worthy of being interpreted as anything else in the world”1 helped to promote a tradition of landscape painting that has influenced local artists and collectors for generations.

T. C. Steele, William Forsyth, and J. Ottis Adams's interest in plein air painting had become focused in the early 1880s under the guidance of J. Frank Currier (1843–1909) during their summers away from rigorous studies at the Royal Academy of Art in Munich. While living in the village of Schleissheim, the Indiana students spent their days tramping the moors and attempting to depict the German scenery. Some of Steele's most elegant value studies and Forsyth's most gestural and thickly painted canvases are from these early sojourns.

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Medium 9780253349118

10. Nina Khanchandani

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

IN INDIA, as in many countries of the world, men are the ones entangled in commerce. They are the merchants, cooks, and waiters, while women work in the domestic sphere. In public, it is easier to meet men, especially the men of commerce who are accustomed to easy exchange, and my quest to meet new women in Banaras began, logically, with a merchant. After several visits to Hemant Khanchandani’s Dayaram Fashion Centre, his hospitality of tea and sometimes samosas did not seem to him enough. He invited us home for a meal. He lives a short walk from his shop, just off of Luxa Road, which is crowded with hotels, restaurants, and clothing stores. As is usual in Banaras, Hemant shares his home with the members of his extended family: his widowed mother, his older and younger brothers, his wife and sister-in-law, and four young adult children—two his own and two his older brother Parmanand’s. Their house is hidden behind a tiny convenience store called Pariwar Provisions, the Family Provisions shop. The name fits, since different members of the family share the duty of running the business. This joint family, in contrast to many others in Banaras, seems to be happy and comfortable, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to Hemant’s household.

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Medium 9780253013064

5 • Origin and Meaning of a Revival Painting Tradition

Melissa R. Kerin Indiana University Press ePub

With stylistic connections made between the Gyapagpa Temple paintings and the larger Ngari style of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this chapter will address the origin of this style, its shifting significations, and the multiple ways in which it has been used and interpreted. Central to this discussion is my argument that this late medieval painting tradition is in fact a revival of the eleventh-century style from the same area. A review of the scant scholarship about fifteenth-century painting traditions of Mnga’ ris (Ngari) reveals that scholars have differing opinions about this subject. A critical dichotomy surfaces, which tends to present the later Ngari painting tradition as either a continuation of the eleventh-century style or as a separate style altogether. This difference between these positions is a critical one. Based on analyses of both visual and textual evidence, I argue that the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century painting style was indeed a separate style, which was a revival of the eleventh-century Khache painting tradition. I suggest further that the fifteenth-century resuscitation of this older painting style is reflective of the Guge kingdom’s objective to fashion itself as a continuation of the former dynasty. In so doing the later kingdom is communicating an ideological message about its connection to, and continuity with, its predecessor of the eleventh century. Based on this hypothesis, we can understand the fifteenth-century painting style as a carefully constructed visual system that worked to signify the fifteenth-century kingdom’s legitimacy and legacy through its association with the eleventh-century dynasty.

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Medium 9780253007414

13. Work and Workshop: The Iteration of Style and Genre in Two Workshop Settings, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Till Förster

Workshops offer a unique occasion to observe and document how cultural knowledge on art is reproduced. They bring masters and apprentices, teachers and pupils, and also artists of the same status together—and, thus, provide opportunities to learn from each other, to develop a shared style, or to distinguish the members as a group from other artists. Even within one society, workshops as a setting of learning and exchange often differ significantly and lead, through their different organization and the modes of communication that this organization fosters, to more or less homogeneity in the artistic expression of the member artists. By the same means, workshops may become visible as groups or as individual artists, as many examples from Western as well as non-Western art history show. The many varieties of workshops thus call for a comparative analysis of how the particular organization of a workshop affects the modes of cooperation and communication among its members and how this translates into particular modes of art production as they become visible in a recognizable style and genre. The questions that arise from this short reflection on the significance of workshops for the understanding of the production of art are, however, an empirical challenge. One must first broaden the understanding of terms as cooperation and communication because of the specificities of art and handwork. What happens in a workshop may be easy to observe but it is usually not part of propositional knowledge—that is, artists very often will not want to explain or put in words what they are doing and how they actually cooperate and learn from each other. Any analysis of work in a workshop thus needs a thorough methodological toolkit to describe and conceptualize how artists work, how they cooperate, how they learn their skills and how they develop a nonverbal understanding of what they do. Such a focus is best developed through a study of different workshops, as I will try to show in this article by comparing sculptors’ workshops of the rural Senufo in northern Côte d’Ivoire with painters’ workshops in urban Bamenda, Cameroon.

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Medium 9780253340481

Chapter Ten Events Follow Events

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253015754

4. When Stars Collide: Lady Gaga and the Pirating of a Globalized Persona

Noah A. Tsika Indiana University Press ePub


Despite Tonto Dikeh’s boastful claims of complete autonomy, star-making remains a collaborative process. So, of course, do attempts to dramatize individual star personae. In 2011, several of the talents behind the BlackBerry Babes trilogy reunited for a project called Lady Gaga.1 As he had done with film pitches dating back to the days of The Celebrity, Sylvester Obadigie wrote a treatment—a prose story that would serve as the basis of a screenplay; Ubong Bassey Nya, who would eventually pen that screenplay, signed on to direct; and Oge Okoye, who had played Damisa in BlackBerry Babes and Return of BlackBerry Babes, signed on to star. The celebrated trio was back—only this time they were committed to cribbing from the life of Lady Gaga. Knowing that they would need not only trusted colleagues but also the kind whose talents could turn a black Nigerian woman into a walking reference to a white American music star, they enlisted three key people: make-up artist Matthew Alechenu, who had helped Eniola Badmus transform into a glamorous, lipstick-loving city girl in the BlackBerry Babes trilogy; costumier Ogo Okechi, who had designed and supplied that trilogy’s trendy dresses; and Austine Erowele, whose thematically relevant song “BlackBerry Babes” had given the three films a further, jaunty self-reflexivity. Together, these six collaborators would generate a melodrama about the fine line between piracy and fair use—a four-part film about a globalizing media phenomenon that both supports and subverts that phenomenon, in inimitable Nollywood fashion.

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Medium 9781574412208


Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF


This manuscript was completed during the time of the great hurricane

Katrina-caused f lood in New Orleans on August 31 and the first week of

September 2005. While I watched television news covering the flooded city and its stranded citizens who were so disproportionately African American and poor,

John Biggers’s drawings came to my mind. In his early drawings he had depicted the struggle of the working poor with such empathy. It was the part of life that he had known the best. He had seen the exhaustion of a mother trying to shield her children from poverty and illness. He knew the desperation of the elderly without resources who could not care for themselves. The faces glimpsed on the flickering screen could have come from John Biggers’s sketchbook. He was well acquainted with poverty, racism, and injustice.

He spent the last half of his career infusing his art with optimism and hope.

He had a passion for art and believed that somehow his art could lift up his cherished people to the very best of life. As he came to accept and treasure his life’s journey as an African American pioneer, he developed powerful iconic images that resonated with many viewers. Television viewers of Katrina’s destruction agonized while watching so many families clinging together, desperate for help.

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